St. Augustine, Beach and Ponte Vedra FORECLOSURE DEFENSE
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The attorneys at St. Johns Law Group have extensive experience in helping clients avoid and defend against foreclosure. A skilled foreclosure defense attorney can help you evaluate the alternatives to foreclosure and understand your legal rights. Our attorneys regularly help clients with loan modifications, short sales, deeds in lieu of foreclosure, and even decisions related to the filing of bankruptcy. By understanding your financial condition and the legal issues, our attorneys can help you make an informed decision and help you form and implement a strategy for moving forward.
Foreclosure – a legal action taken by a lender to gain title to property after a borrower has defaulted on a term of the mortgage loan. This may also occur when a borrower has defaulted on another loan that is cross collateralized even if the loan on the second property is still current. For example, you may own a primary residence and be current with your mortgage payments but not be current on your mortgage with the same lender on an investment piece of property, say a lot or a condo. When the lender declares a default on the lot or condo, the lender may also claim the non-payment as a default on the cross collateralized asset, your primary residence.
THE FORECLOSURE LAWSUIT
Your lender will be represented by an attorney. Shouldn’t you?
If you have been served with a lawsuit, you only have twenty (20) days to respond to the lender’s complaint in Florida. Responding within 20 days is important and your response or answer needs to comply with Florida’s rules. If you fail to respond within 20 days, your lender may obtain a default judgment and your chances of defending the action are greatly reduced.
Now that your lender has filed a lawsuit against you for defaulting on your loan, you have important decisions to make in preparing the best defense and/or evaluating ways to minimize your exposure. Our attorneys can help you identify foreclosure scams or predatory lending practices that may help you keep your home. You may even be able to negotiate or “work out” a refinancing or modification of your loan to lower your monthly payments to an affordable amount – often called a mortgage modification agreement. Or, you may be able to sell your home at a reduced price with the agreement of your lender – often called a short sale. Negotiating these issues effectively can be made easier with the assistance of an experienced attorney. Or, you may be able to give your lender title to the property to halt any further fees and costs against you because of the lender’s efforts to foreclose – often referred to as a deed in lieu of foreclosure.
After you have responded to the lawsuit, a hearing will be set and hiring an attorney will make sure your interests are represented. Your attorney can also work to make sure you have time to negotiate with your lender and that you are given an opportunity to actually speak with a representative of your lender (a representative with authority to settle your case) by requesting mediation. The courts in Florida have the power to order lenders to participate in mediation and give you an opportunity to settle the foreclosure lawsuit.
NEGOTIATING A SETTLEMENT WITH YOUR LENDER
Whenever you negotiate a settlement with your lender (loan modification, short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure, etc.) it is important to have an attorney review the documents your lender will present for your signature. Remember, it is likely your lender’s documents that created the mortgage loan that you are being foreclosed upon. If you are modifying your existing loan, you need to make sure you fully and completely understand the terms of the modification documents. If you are agreeing to a short sale or deed in lieu, an attorney can assist in making sure the settlement documents cover issues such as whether the debt will be resolved completely and whether you will be obligated for any additional fees or costs.
PAYING FOR REPRESENTATION
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